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Treon Harris suspended for FL TN game


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GAINESVILLE – The Florida Gators’ quarterback competition has been settled by a suspension.

Quarterback Treon Harris and cornerback Jalen Tabor have been suspended for UF’s game Saturday in the Swamp against Tennessee, coach Jim McElwain announced Wednesday.

Harris’ absence puts the game solely in the hands of redshirt freshman Will Grier. Grier started the past two games and went the distance during last week’s win at Kentucky after he shared the duties running the offense with Harris during the first two games.

After the Kentucky win, McElwain did not close the door on the quarterback race. Harris did it for him – for now.

“Disappointed? Yeah,” McElwain said. “But we all have choices and decisions to make in everything we do. It wasn’t anything we did. The team didn’t do.

“I feel bad for the team is who I feel bad for.”

McElwain did not disclose what specifically triggered the suspensions. The two sophomores are expected to return for an Oct. 3 visit from Ole Miss.

For now, the Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) will face the Vols (2-1, 0-0) without two of the heroes of last season’s 10-9 come-from-behind win in Knoxville.

Harris replaced Jeff Driskel late in the third quarter and rallied the Gators from a 9-0 deficit. Tabor’s strip-sack of Vols’ quarterback Justin Worley ignited the comeback and set up UF’s only touchdown.

Without Harris available Saturday, Vanderbilt transfer Josh Grady presumably will back up Grier. Grady, who lined up at wide receiver for UF’s first two games, finished his career at Vanderbilt 3-of-7 passing for 27 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Obviously that thins you out at the quarterback position,” McElwain said. “But that's why we make sure to work our ‘Gatortail’ stuff and have some packages for Josh to be ready to go in. Feel good about that.”

McElwain said the team’s “Gatortail” package is designed for players who “aren’t traditional quarterbacks” to receive the snap, likely akin to the Wildcat formation.

Harris’ suspension gives Grier a chance to put a stranglehold on the starting job. Even though Grier did not rotate out at Kentucky, McElwain called his performance “just OK"

Grier was 5-of-10 passing for 31 yards and an interception in the end zone as the Gators were scoreless during the second half. He finished the night 13-of-22 passing for 125 yards and a team-high 61 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

“He's going to have an opportunity to run the ship,” McElwain said.

Unlike the quarterback position, the Gators’ secondary has the depth to withstand Tabor’s suspension, even though he is one of its most-talented players.

Sophomore Quincy Wilson has started the season’s first three games at cornerback, but Tabor has made more of an impact. Tabor has a position-best 10 tackles, including one for loss. He is second behind nickel back Brian Poole with four pass breakups and had a pivotal 39-yard interception return for a touchdown during a 31-24 win Sept. 12 against East Carolina.

“It’s something that we talk about every day,” McElwain said. “So somebody else moves up the depth chart.”

It is not the first time Tabor and Harris have shown questionable decision-making off the field.

In the wake of the Oct. 4 win, Harris was suspended from team activities amid accusations of sexual battery but was reinstated after the allegations were withdrawn.

Harris was cited last December with operating a motor vehicle without license, a second-degree misdemeanor, while Tabor and former cornerback J.C. Jackson were in the car.

Officers smelled marijuana and found two small bags of the drug in a storage pocket of the vehicle. No charges were filed because none of the players was in possession of marijuana and the car did not belong to them.

In May 2014, Tabor was cited for marijuana possession during a separate incident.

Now the Gators will go forward against an SEC East rival without Harris and Tabor in the lineup.

“It hurts,” McElwain said. “You know, I'm not angry at them at all. It's a choice. Each one of us have choice, and they made a choice to do whatever. We've got a lot of guys that really care about this team, and we'll have to have some of the guys to step up and play.

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